While serving as a psychologist and professor at Harvard University’s graduate School of Education, Howard Gardner developed the theory of multiple intelligences. According to this theory, people have different intelligences they can exhibit. Gardner’s multiple intelligences theory has changed the world of education as teachers and students have come to realize that there is more to being “intelligent” than simply being able to get good grades. With the help of Howard Gardner, multiple intelligences and the ways they impact people’s ability to learn are quickly becoming part of mainstream education. An understanding of Gardner’s multiple intelligences makes it easier to understand people and the way they fit into society.

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The Basis of the Theory

According to Howard Gardner, multiple intelligences means that people have more than just the intelligence they can show on an IQ test. He believed that intelligence is more than just the answers provided on a test. Rather, he believed intelligence is being able to offer a service or create a product that has value in the cultural setting an individual lives in. Also, intelligence is the skills necessary to solve life’s problems. Finally, intelligence is the ability to create or find solutions to problems through gathering new knowledge. According to Howard Gardner, multiple intelligences fall into seven to nine different categories.

Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence

The first of the intelligences is verbal/linguistic intelligence. This is demonstrated through the language arts. Children with strong levels of this intelligence are able to speak, write, read, and listen well. People who have strong linguistic intelligence tend to perform well in a traditional classroom.

Mathematical/Logical Intelligence

Students who can reason well and problem solve have high levels of mathematical/logical intelligence. These kids also are quite good with numbers. Like linguistic intelligence, students with high levels of mathematical/logical intelligence tend to do well in school. This is especially true if their teachers offer a logical sequence of activities.

Body/Kinesthetic Intelligence

Some students learn best when they are moving. Hands-on tasks work well for students with bodily/kinesthetic intelligence. These students tend to struggle in schools that require a lot of sitting and working quietly at the desk. According to Howard Gardner, multiple intelligences and the theory he developed helps teachers reach these students, because they understand that the student is not acting out, but rather exhibiting his or her own type of intelligence.

Musical/Rhythmic Intelligence

Many students learn well through songs, and these students are strong in musical/rhythmic intelligence. These individuals may be constantly humming or tapping out a rhythm. Unfortunately, traditional education does not cater well to these students. They tend to struggle to learn the way most teachers teach.

Intrapersonal Intelligence

Some individuals have a clear understanding of how they feel and what they value. They are able to express their ideas well and are quite intuitive. They can be quite reserved, though, and are content to sit on their own without interaction with others. These individuals have strong intrapersonal intelligence.

Interpersonal Intelligence

The chatterbox in the school classroom who is constantly trying to socialize may have strong interpersonal intelligence, according to Gardner. These individuals are quite people oriented and tend to learn well in group settings. They work well with others and have a strong ability to sense what others are feeling. These individuals are known as being highly outgoing.

Naturalist Intelligence

The naturalist is one who loves being outdoors and spending time with nature. These individuals are able to pick up on subtle differences in meanings or changes in their environments. This makes them skilled at categorizing or cataloging information. These students do not like to learn subjects that are not related to nature.

Existentialist Intelligence

The existentialist individual has a good grasp of the big picture. These are the philosophers who ask the hard questions like “why are we here?” these students tend to be more aware of their existence in the world and the universe than others. This is one of the multiple intelligences that is not always included in the list, and Gardner himself was not fully convinced that it should be included.

Each of Gardner’s multiple intelligences needs to be addressed in the school system. By doing so, educators will help more students learn to their fullest potential. Without addressing each one, students will often fall through the cracks as the education they receive does not cater to their way of learning.